Sep 6 : On 29th and 30th August 2018, a team from CODP comprising of 6 members including the Director visited rain affected areas and relief camps in Kodagu District. The purpose of the visit was from the perspective of Disaster management, Natural resource management and of course from relief point of view.
On 29th the team, guided by a local volunteer Mr Santhosh who is helping in relief activities, was taken around Katageri, Hattihole, Madhapura and Suntikoppa where people have been badly affected due to landslides and flash floods.
Initially the members visited the family of Gilbert Mendonca who was buried under the landslides at Katageri Village. His wife Mrs Rita and two sons Akshay and Ajay survived, they have lost their house and property.
Mrs Rita said that she lost her four acre coffee plantation due to landslides and incessant rains on 16th August 2018. They were working in their estate and suddenly heard a loud noise and in a blink of an eye their entire estate and house was buried under soil. They just ran helter-skelter not knowing what was happening. She and her two children managed to escape. There was no whereabouts of her husband for 14 days.The rescue personnel had failed to trace his body for 14 days but on that day (the 29th), the body of Gilbert was found towards evening by collective efforts of the NDRF, Garuda squad, Police team and sniffer dog squad.
This year their coffee plants had borne fruits for the first time and now the entire estate is covered with almost 60-80 ft of debris. She lost her husband, land, house, valuables, including personal and property documents. She is totally shattered as she does not know where to start rebuilding their lives. Bodies of 6 more villagers were retrieved by NDRF team.About 60 families in their area have left the village and have moved into relief centers or relatives’ homes.
The team then visited Madhapura, Hattihole where most of the people were rescued and evacuated. They are currently staying at relief centers and have been advised not to return to their homes/lands. Landslides and flash floods have also cut off access to many estates.The road at Madhapura was totally damaged and cut off.
On top of Igodlu estate, a guest house stood on the edge. The adjacent hill had been washed off in a landslide which now looked like a valley. Several houses were washed away by landslides. Several houses are completely destroyed and washed away due to the landslides and floods. The paddy fields at the foot of the mountains are completely filled with slush and silt.
At St Joseph Church Relief Centre at Hattiholethe team interacted with the residents sheltered there.The Military personnel and the Police are not allowing the residents to go back to their houses as it is very dangerous. Moreover, the course of the river has changed because of the landslides.
According to the Hattihole residents, Francis Monteiro from Hadageri in Somwarpet Taluk was active in flood relief works on August 15. “On August 15 he had sent several locals to safe places by identifying the landslide areas. He went missing since August 16. Francis had gone to his friend’s house to charge his mobile phone but did not return home. His body was found in the stream situated 100 metres away from the house on 26th August” narrated a local volunteer. His family members are now sheltered at St Joseph Church relief centre.
During the interaction with church priests of St Joseph Church they informed that 25 families belonging to their church were affected. Rehabilitation and counseling is very important for people to overcome trauma. They cannot stay there as the course of the river is changed and the damaged houses can collapse at any moment. Boulders started rolling down the hills and several estates are covered with debris. Most of the families are labourers who lived here since 30 years. They toiled hard and saved some of their wages and bought small lands and constructed homes on the banks of the river or at the foot of the mountains.They also lost their church Gurkar(Ward In charge) Mr Francis. The priests at Hattihole explained the team about the pathetic stories of their parishioners. They express doubt regarding the very existence of the Hattihole parish saying the government may consider to relocate the parishioners.
Gargandhoor Bridge was also affected as several houses were inundated due to the floods. Earth movers are being used to clear several roads that have been blocked by the landslides. Slush and mud-ridden water is constantly flowing on the roads.
The team observed that the worst affected by the floods and landslides in the district are the labourers who worked in the estates. Many areas where the landslides occurred are where the labourers dwelt.
After staying overnight at Tapovana, Kushalnagar, on 30th morning the team members interacted with people staying at relief centre at St Antony’s Church, Suntikoppa. All of them are labourers at Paaplikkad. They worked in Venkatavelli estate.They were caught due to the torrential rains and landslides. One of the survivors said that her mother fell into the river while escaping to safe area and has injured her foot. It was very difficult for her as she needed extra efforts to help her mother who was old and sister who is deaf and dumb. Food and clothes were provided by the government and other organizations. The road which leads to their house is completely blocked and their house is surrounded by water.
Most of the residents who were at St Antony’s relief centre have moved back to their homes or shifted to Somavarpet relief camp.
The volunteering teams from CODP Mangaluru and ODP Mysuru helped to sort out and pack relief materials at school premises run by the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes Congregation.
The team learnt that as many as 5288 people are taking shelter in relief camps of Coorg district and 224 people in Dakshina Kannada district. The visit was coordinated by Fr Stany Almeida of ODP, Mysore.
CODP Volunteer Team:
Fr Oswald Monteiro, Director
Ms Lenet Gonsalves
Mr Ravikumar Crasta
Mr Peter Paul DSouza
Mrs Rita DSouza
Mr Praveen Crasta
Two staff members from CODP handed over relief materials such as rice, soaps, clothes, pickle, phenol, detergent powder, liquid dishwasher etc. to Calicut diocese on 03rd September 2018.
Staff involved in preparing pickle, liquid dishwasher and phenol
Ms Lenet Gonsalves
Mrs Shanthi Dsouza
Mrs Vani Poojary
Ms Sofia Hellenthal
Ms Wilma Roche
Mr Steevan Lobo